Face masks are the ultimate treat-yourself moment, when you can nourish your skin and take twenty minutes to just relax. Pinterest, Reddit, and YouTube are full of DIY face mask recipes with ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen pantry. Five ELLE.com editors put five DIY face masks to the test to see if a mask made at home would actually work and live up to the budget-friendly hype. Sinks were ruined, but great selfies were taken.
Kristina’s Soothing Pumpkin Face Mask
- 1 tablespoon cooked or canned pumpkin
- 1 teaspoon topical vitamin E
- 1 teaspoon honey
Directions: Mix the ingredients until smooth. Apply to the face, and rinse after 15 minutes.
Benefits: The perfect mask for fall. Pumpkin is full of enzymes and AHAs, or alpha hydroxy acids, that help increase cell turnover to reveal bright and smooth skin. It also boasts vitamin A and C that helps soften skin and boosts collagen production. Vitamin E, when applied topically, can diminish the appearance of acne scars and hydrate the skin.
The Review: “I must confess, I’m not a big fan of DIY beauty. As much as I admire people who make their own soaps and lip scrubs and save a million beauty recipes on Pinterest myself, my impression of DIY treatments is that they’re messy, time consuming, and not as effective as a product from a reputable beauty brand that’s done the research and testing. However, I am not opposed to fun and any excuse to indulge in a little self-care. I need it.
IT RESEMBLES BABY FOOD MUSH AND MADE ME LOOK LIKE AN OOMPA LOOMPA
Coming off a cross-country flight and a sleep-deprived weekend, my skin has been screaming. It was dry, dull, and irritated from being out in the sun. Chloe prescribed me this soothing pumpkin face mask with honey and Vitamin E. Pumpkin has long been buzzy in the beauty world because of its exfoliating fruit enzymes and alpha hydroxy acids. Creating the mask was easy enough since there were only three ingredients, but because I am not a person who cooks, ever, I didn’t own a can opener. I had to Amazon Prime that! I also used more utensils in my kitchen than I have in months simply making this mask, which thankfully took only seconds.
The mask isn’t cute (it resembles baby food mush and made me look like an Oompa Loompa), but when I applied it to my face with the back of a spoon my tired skin felt immediately soothed. It has a nice cooling sensation and tingled on my skin. I left it on for fifteen minutes as instructed. Then, I washed it off. Pros: My skin was immediately plumper and soft to the touch. It felt extremely moisturized and, when I applied makeup over it, worked better than any primer I’ve used to prep my skin. I was so impressed! I took a million selfies. Cons: It turned my sink orange. It is a little messy, but, overall I’d do it again for the results.” — Kristina Rodulfo, Senior Beauty Editor
Nerisha’s Honey, Cinnamon, and Lemon Juice Mask for Dark Spots
- 2 tablespoons of honey
- The juice from one lemon slice
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
Directions: Mix the ingredients until smooth. Apply to the face, and rinse after 30 minutes.
Benefits: Honey, cinnamon, and lemon juice work together to target inflammation and dark spots. Honey is a natural antibacterial inflammatory, so it can reduce any redness, swelling, or dark spots due to hyperpigmentation issues or picking of the skin.
The Review: “I have developed a very bad habit of popping my pimples, then picking away at the scars once my skin heals. Not only does this leave me with even more acne scars than what I started with, but it makes my skincare routine even longer because I have to add more steps, more products, and more time to truly give my skin the love it deserves. A DIY mask is just what I needed to kick this habit.
I COULDN’T BELIEVE HOW BABY SOFT MY SKIN FELT.
The mask has only three simple ingredients that can be found right in your kitchen cabinet: Honey, lemon, and cinnamon. I started off cleansing my skin before gently massaging the sweet mixture all over my face. The cinnamon acted as an exfoliant, while the lemon and honey brightened and hydrated my skin. I let it sit for about 30 minutes as I took selfies and made myself a quick meal. Then, I rinsed off the mask with lukewarm water and I couldn’t believe how baby soft my skin felt and how radiant it looked afterwards.” — Nerisha Penrose, Assistant Editor
Justine’s Gentle Hydrating Face Mask
- 1/2 cup raw ground oatmeal
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 tablespoon honey
Directions: Combine all the ingredients in a small sauce pan. Cook over medium heat for five minutes. Let cool, apply to face, rinse after 15 minutes.
Benefits: Oatmeal hydrates the skin without clogging the pores. It’s also used to calm eczema and psoriasis. The gentle antioxidant soothes irritated skin and works to treat dry and irritated patches.
The Review: When it comes to face masks, I usually reach for chemical-packed sheets my mom finds at her Asian grocery store, so I was skeptical to use an all-natural, DIY—not to mention edible—recipe.
FOR ME, HOT CEREAL AS TREATMENT FOR DRY, SENSITIVE SKIN IS A NO-GO
Mixing together oats, honey, water and milk (which I dutifully replaced with oat milk because I’m selectively dairy-free, i.e. I sometimes eat cheese and wonder why I break out), I made oatmeal for my face. Like, actual oatmeal. The kind you begrudgingly eat as a child. Again, I was hesitant. I applied the sticky breakfast to my and my S.O.’s faces (“we look like we’re quarantined in a hospital ward”), put “Rich Girl” on repeat, and waited for fifteen tingly minutes.
It was extremely difficult to remove, which forced me to aggressively rub off the mask (counterintuitive for a mask intended for sensitive skin). My face turned red and dry patches immediately started to appear. I went into Emergency skincare mode with face creams and oils to repair my irritated skin. Maybe it works for some, but for me, hot cereal as treatment for dry, sensitive skin is a no-go.
Holly’s Honey Avocado Hydrating Mask
- 2 tablespoons of honey
- 2 tablespoons of avocado
- 2 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 mashed mango
Directions: Mix all the ingredients together. Leave on for 15 minutes and then remove with a warm cloth.
Benefits: Avocado is the key ingredient in this green mask. It is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins that help restore your skin’s lipid layer to reveal a brighter, plumper face. Mango is also packed with Vitamin C to brighten skin, while olive oil works as an anti-inflammatory to gently calm the skin.
The Review: “This was my first time doing a DIY mask and to be honest, I was not expecting this to go well. I’m all about cutting as many steps as possible when it comes to building a simple skincare routine, so creating my own mask seemed like….a lot. To be completely transparent, it was a little bit messy to create. I used my Nutribullet to blend the ingredients into a creamy texture, but I still managed to get honey all over my hands and had to use a knife to cut the avocado. Hand-mixing this mask would have been a fresh level of hell, so a blender is definitely the way to go.
THAT GLOWY SHEEN ON MY CHEEKBONES? IT’S NOT HIGHLIGHTER…IT’S MY SKIN.
Once my magic potion was blended into a smoothie-like consistency, I dipped a silicone makeup brush into the mask to apply it (to avoid making a mess out of my bathroom vanity and having my roommate get mad at me…again). The mask went on as smoothly as any normal clay mask, but didn’t dry completely (so if you’re into that satisfying mask-cracking feeling, this isn’t for you).
After 20 minutes of letting my skin absorb the solution, I was ready to remove this bad boy, and honestly, the glow up was REAL. I struggle with dry skin that gets irritated very easily by perfumes and dyes, so this all natural mask did wonders for my skin! That glowy sheen on my cheekbones? It’s not highlighter…it’s my SKIN. This was a hassle to mix, but my skin loved this mask. A super quick fix for dry skin!” — Holly Rhue, Editorial Fellow
Chloe’s Brightening Papaya Honey Mask
- 1/2 cup mashed papaya
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 whipped egg white
Directions: Apply the mixture to your face, neck, and chest and let sit for 15 minutes. Remove the mask with lukewarm water and pat skin dry.
Benefits: Papaya is a natural skin brightener that works to reveal a glowing complexion and rid the skin of dark spots. Papaya is also used as a natural exfoliator that promotes cell turnover.
The Review: “My new DIY journey started off a bit rocky. It took me three bodega runs before I jumped on the subway to Whole Foods and finally found a papaya. Determined to become the DIY face-masker of my dreams, I headed home and immediately got started on my mask. The papaya was hard to mash and once all the ingredients were mixed, I was left with a gross, orange slime. The ingredients didn’t bind together so it created a funky gunk.
I HATED HAVING FOOD ON MY FACE AND LOOKED CRAZY.
Immediately upon application, my skin began to itch. I already patch-tested the mask on my hands and didn’t have a negative reaction so I was confused by my reaction. I decided to take the mask off around the seven minute mark because it felt like it was doing more harm than good. I hated having food on my face and looked crazy. I removed the mask with lukewarm water and dried my skin. I did see results. My skin was a bit brighter and slightly smoother just after one use.
Although I saw positive results, I don’t think the DIY life is for me. It would have been much easier to grab a sheet mask or packaged mask and not make a mess of my kitchen for minimal results.”— Chloe Hall, Writer and Producer